Santa Margarita River Trail

MODERATE 434 reviews

Santa Margarita River Trail is a 5.2 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Fallbrook, California that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

5.2 miles 879 feet Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly


mountain biking

trail running


horseback riding




wild flowers


I-15 N to Fallbrook exit. Take Mission Rd. 5 mi. E; turn N onto Pico Ave. (becomes De Luz Rd.). Continue 2.4 mi.; go R @ fork onto Sandia Creek Dr. N. Parking area is in 1 mi. (just before bridge); trailhead is E of lot.

50 minutes ago

1 hour ago

9 hours ago

fun and easy for the kiddos.

17 hours ago

tried to do this one this morning, sign says trails closed for repair.

20 hours ago

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6 days ago

Can be crowded at times, but an all around good hike otherwise.

8 days ago

This trail was beautiful! However I did come across a snake so make sure your always paying attention to your surroundings. And I would definitely rate this trail as easy. I'm sure there might be trails that are considered moderate, but the ones I went on I would rate as easy.

13 days ago

This trail is beautiful and well worth the hike! Right now, I wouldn't enter from the preserve side (where the picnic tables and open grass area are) as the trail is really washed out on that side and that parking lot closes earlier. You will have to wade through water on that end. If that's not your thing, then take a slight right towards the Sandia Creek address and after a little distance down the road you'll see a dirt lot that says it's open til 7 or 8pm. I think some reviewers on here are confusing the two sides

Anyways, there was a spot on the A trail where it got sketchy with the rocky parts, but pay attention and wear good shoes and you'll be fine. We went on a Sunday and it was pretty busy but the other people we passed were all friendly. Didn't see any snakes, but I think I heard a rattler. As always, be cautious about where you're stepping and be cautious near crevasses in rocks. We saw plenty of lizards, a monarch butterfly caterpillar, tadpoles, and ducks. I didn't find the old car, maybe next time. Oh yeah, poison oak is everywhere! Watch those little ones and where they're walking.

Just a heads up, there is a tree on the left side of the A trail about halfway in (near the big toppled over tree) that is housing quite the beehive so be cautious and respectful. Listen carefully & you can hear the buzz of hundreds of honey bees in the area depending on weather. I heard a loud bull frog on my way back out to my car too.

Here's the thing: Yes, it's sandy in some places, but not so bad you can't walk through it. Again, It's worse if you enter the trail from the preserve side. The trail IS marked, we followed the signs up the A trail. There is plenty of shade, and plenty of spots to go sit and take a break by the flowing river. The other thing: Horse poop was present but it wasn't so terrible that it killed the hike. I mean really you take nature (animals) into nature (environment) and you're going to be upset that nature poops? Just watch your step, horse poo is pretty hard to miss! Ps- please don't be like the other morons who bag their dog poop then leave it on the side of the trail in the bag. It's better to just let it naturally decompose if you didn't want to pick it up! One more thing, yes, you'll unfortunately find trash on the trail from irresponsible people, but do your part, bring a trash bag and pick up instead of complaining about it.

It's a really rewarding and beautiful hike with different paths to take. Make it even better and picnic with the family near the water! Just don't leave your trash ;)

13 days ago

16 days ago

This is a wonderful, easy hike. Beautiful scenery and some GREAT swimming holes for people and pups alike. That being said, with the warm weather be wary of snakes- we had a close call with a 4 ft rattlesnake that didn't rattle until our dog was nearly on top of it. Beautiful hike and we will definitely be back.

18 days ago

19 days ago

great hike yesterday! Water flowing very nicely with actual water holes to swim and water temp perfect after a warm hike, very tropical and jungle like. they have maintained to trails recently. stay on trail and watch for snakes, poison oak (leaves of 3...let it be).